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18,000 Car Men May Be Laid Off Today

28 January 1960


Car production at the Austin factory at Longbridge will be brought to a standstill and 18,000 workers laid off by tomorrow night if there is no settlement of the strike of 55 maintenance electricians at the British Motor Corporation's key tractor and transmission branch at Washwood Heath.

A third of the 3,800 labour force were sent home to-day from the tractor and transmission factory which produces axles and front suspension components for the corporation's whole range of cars and light commercial vehicles. The plant is expected to be at a standstill within 48 hours because other workers are refusing to operate machines that have been serviced by managerial staff while the electricians are on strike.

A shop steward said: "As the machines break down and are repaired by black labour we are refusing to work them."

The strike, over a pay claim for electricians' mates, has been declared official by the Electrical Trades Union. The B.M.C. say it will bring their car production to a halt by the end of this week, making about 40,000 workers idle.

Morris Motors' Cowley factory at Oxford stated to-day that unless the position improves the night shift on the Mini-Minor will close down until further notice to-morrow morning, and the day shift will end at midday tomorrow, a total of 500 men being involved.

Production is already affected at the B.M.C. sports car factory at Abingdon, near Oxford, where 170 men were laid off to-day. They will be joined by another 700 to-morrow.

About 2,500 men were also laid off at the Fisher and Ludlow car bodies factory at Erdington as a result of an unofficial strike at the Austin factory yesterday, which has since been settled. B.M.C. factories in Coventry that could be affected by the strike at Washwood Heath include the Morris Motors Limited bodies and engines branches and Carbodies limited.

The 19-day-old strike of 132 drivers and material handlers at the British Light Steel Pressings Limited factory at Acton, a subsidiary of the Rootes Group, has already meant that 4,000 workers at the Coventry factories of the group, 3,000 at the Pressed Steel factory at Cowley, and 600 at Bristol Siddeley Engines Limited, Coventry. have been laid off indefinitely. Unless there is a quick resumption further laying off will be necessary.

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